Newsweek - - FRONT PAGE - By Abi­gail Jones

YOU’VE SEEN HER —the woman in the red-and-white polka-dot ban­dana and rum­pled blue shirt, flex­ing her bi­cep and clench­ing her fist be­neath the slo­gan “We Can Do It!” Maybe it was Bey­oncé pos­ing in that 2014 In­sta­gram photo or Marge Simp­son on the cover of Utne Reader in 2011. Or Pink in the mu­sic video for “Raise Your Glass,” her 2010 pop an­them. The ori­gins of the “We Can Do It!” poster, how­ever, go back to World War II, when it sold pa­tri­o­tism to Amer­i­can women tak­ing up his­tor­i­cally male fac­tory jobs to sup­port the war ef­fort. Since then, the poster has be­come one of the most iconic fem­i­nist images in the world.

“Rosie the Riveter,” as she’s also known (a nod to a 1943 Satur­day Evening Post cover by Nor­man Rock­well of a burly red­head on her lunch break, a rivet gun in her lap and a crum­pled copy of Mein Kampf, Adolf Hitler’s man­i­festo, wedged un­der her feet), has graced Hil­lary Clin­ton campaign T-shirts, Sarah Palin posters and postage stamps. In early Fe­bru­ary, two weeks af­ter 3 mil­lion to 4 mil­lion peo­ple joined Women’s March events around the coun­try, The New Yorker put a young, black “Rosie” on the cover, wear­ing a pink pussy hat in­stead of a ban­dana. Rosie has her own na­tional park, a celebrity fol­low­ing and so many mugs, mag­nets and other doo­dads that a 2000 Wash­ing­ton Post ar­ti­cle named her the “most over­ex­posed” sou­venir in the Wash­ing­ton, D.C., mar­ket.

Rosie’s lat­est in­car­na­tion: alt-right poster girl. In late Jan­uary, Amer­ica’s great­est fem­i­nist icon was seen pump­ing her arm along­side a new ral­ly­ing cry: “Don’t apol­o­gize for be­ing white!” The image was part of a “white-con­scious­ness campaign” launched by alt-right im­pre­sario Jared Tay­lor on the eve of Black His­tory Month. His mis­sion was to in­un­date col­lege and univer­sity cam­puses with pro-white pro­pa­ganda. “The elec­tion of Don­ald Trump is a sign of ris­ing white con­scious­ness,” Tay­lor wrote on Amer­i­can Re­nais­sance, his on­line mag­a­zine ded­i­cated to white supremacy. “Now is the time to press our ad­van­tage in every way pos­si­ble.”

Along with a 13-step video tu­to­rial on how to hang racist pro­pa­ganda with­out get­ting caught (ad­vice in­cluded wear­ing a hoodie and post­ing be­tween mid­night and 4 a.m.), Tay­lor linked to 15 down­load­able posters that co-opt some of the most pow- er­ful images of the 20th cen­tury, in­clud­ing James Montgomery Flagg’s “I Want You!” poster from World War I, only here Un­cle Sam has a new mes­sage: “I want you to love who you are. Don’t apol­o­gize for be­ing white.” And there’s Thomas Jef­fer­son in front of a tat­tered Amer­i­can flag, with the slo­gan “Men of the West, don’t give in to hate…. Em­brace white iden­tity to­day!”

Tay­lor’s posters drip with nostalgia for a white­washed 1940s Amer­ica and speak to those who be­lieve they are los­ing con­trol of “their coun­try.” One poster looks like a Col­lier’s or Satur­day Evening Post cover, with a but­ler in a tux of­fer­ing an at­trac­tive, di­a­mond-clad woman a cup of tea as she coyly glances at her au­di­ence. Tagline: “Women. They will try to shame you for be­ing white. Don’t let them.” An­other re­sem­bles a retro World War II poster, with two float­ing heads on a green back­ground and a bub­ble that reads, “Free your mind from hate” and “Don’t be ma­nip­u­lated by pro­fes­sors! White guilt only hurts you!”

For much of the 20th cen­tury, racists have waged their wars in the shad­ows, spew­ing prowhite agen­das qui­etly, of­ten anony­mously. But when Trump promised to “make Amer­ica great again,” which some heard as “make Amer­ica white again,” the sheets came off. Tay­lor’s scheme—co-opt­ing iconic lib­eral posters to con­vince bright, young minds that white Amer­i­cans are un­der at­tack—feels more like a PR stunt than a le­git­i­mate at­tempt at re­cruit­ment. But as Ryan Lenz, se­nior in­ves­tiga­tive re­porter for the South­ern Poverty Law Cen­ter’s In­tel­li­gence Project, points out, “For Tay­lor to tap into cul­tural touch- stones that have been uni­fy­ing mo­ments of Amer­i­can cul­ture, and use them to di­vide groups of peo­ple, it’s quite a strate­gic move on his part.”

Tay­lor may be de­pend­ing on an ana­log form of com­mu­ni­ca­tion—the poster—but he’s do­ing so at a time when memes have come to de­fine move­ments and any­thing can go vi­ral. So that pro-white poster tacked onto a bul­letin board at some col­lege may get ripped down im­medi-


ately, but a photo of the poster can spread on­line in­stan­ta­neously, worm­ing its way into our Face­book and Twit­ter feeds, our news sources and our so­cial me­dia uni­verses, prov­ing that Tay­lor’s ap­proach may not be so dated af­ter all.

Scrolling through Tay­lor’s pro-white posters, graphic de­sign author­ity Steven Heller ticks off their in­spi­ra­tion as if he’s recit­ing the names of his chil­dren. There’s Alexan­der Rod­chenko’s fa­mous pro-lit­er­acy ad from the Rus­sian Rev­o­lu­tion, and Dmitry Moor’s iconic Soviet pro­pa­ganda poster, and an­other that com­bines Barbara Kruger’s ty­pog­ra­phy with Ste­fan Sag­meis­ter’s face paint­ing. “This is a so­phis­ti­cated way of pro­pa­gan­diz­ing. The alt-right has not done this up un­til now,” says Heller, who co-chairs the MFA De­sign pro­gram at Man­hat­tan’s School of Vis­ual Arts and spent 33 years as an art di­rec­tor at The New York Times. “I’ve col­lected white su­prem­a­cist stuff for a long time, and it’s al­ways pretty ugly. You know what you’re get­ting into: white Aryan re­sis­tance, white su­prem­a­cist mag­a­zines…. But they’re lim­ited to the au­di­ence they’re aim­ing at,” he says. “[Tay­lor’s posters] can mo­bi­lize peo­ple. They’re ironic enough where peo­ple can think, OK, I’m not gonna apol­o­gize for who I am…. That’s scary shit.”


“I’M CER­TAINLY not a racist,” Tay­lor tells me over the phone from Oak­ton, Vir­ginia, where he runs the non­profit New Cen­tury Foun­da­tion, a pro-white group that he dresses up as a high-brow think tank—not to be con­fused with the New Amer­ica think tank and the Cen­tury Foun­da­tion, which are both po­lit­i­cally pro­gres­sive. “I want my tribe, my peo­ple, to sur­vive and flour­ish, whereas if the U.S. fol­lows its cur­rent path, whites”—he pro­nounces it wh­h­h­h­h­h­hites, as if he’s breath­ing life into the word—“will be­come an everdi­min­ish­ing mi­nor­ity, and chances are, a de­spised mi­nor­ity.”

His voice is a soft mono­tone, al­most ele­gant. He is a trilin­gual (English, Ja­panese, French), Yale-ed­u­cated white su­prem­a­cist (he prefers “racial re­al­ist”) who be­lieves that race is di­rectly re­lated to in­tel­li­gence and that whites are su­pe­rior to blacks. The New Cen­tury Foun­da­tion uses pseu­do­science to pro­mote the phi­los­o­phy that whites ought to be the ma­jor­ity race. The or­ga­ni­za­tion has an an­nual bud­get of around $200,000, ac­cord­ing to Tay­lor, and his Amer­i­can Re­nais­sance web­site gets 400,000 unique vis­i­tors a month. He also hosts an an­nual con­fer­ence that at­tracts ev­ery­one from white su­prem­a­cists to for­mer Klans­men and the suit-and-tie racist set. Asked why he launched his poster campaign, he replies, “We just got in­spired…. The tim­ing is good, given all of the con­tro­versy around the Trump pres­i­dency.”

Tay­lor’s pro-white posters may be de­riv­a­tive, but ex­perts agree that

the per­son who de­signed them did some home­work. (Tay­lor would not re­veal the de­signer’s name but re­ferred to him as “a tal­ented young per­son.” Asked to re­lay an in­ter­view re­quest, he re­ported back that the de­signer had de­clined to speak to Newsweek.) “This is not a piece of junk,” Heller says, re­fer­ring to a poster that reads, “We founded this na­tion,” set over a large sil­hou­ette of Un­cle Sam in profile. “This is wellde­signed, se­ri­ously thought-out iconog­ra­phy…you wouldn’t mind putting up on your wall.”

“That’s a very nice graphic, right out of an avant-garde de­sign,” says poster col­lec­tor Mer­rill Berman, re­fer­ring to a poster with a large white maze over an orange back­ground, with a small fig­ure run­ning to­ward the words “The only way out is within.”

“This one knows ty­po­graphic hi­er­ar­chy,” says El­iz­a­beth Res­nick, a pro­fes­sor of graphic de­sign at the Mas­sachusetts Col­lege of Art and De­sign who cu­rates so­ciopo­lit­i­cal poster ex­hi­bi­tions. She’s re­fer­ring to Tay­lor’s “Men of the West” poster, which has three blocks of text in dif­fer­ent sizes. “What to see first, sec­ond and third, ex­cept that third line is kind of stupid—this is where they show you they’re stupid, be­cause it’s cen­tered.”

But aes­thet­ics only get you so far. A suc­cess­ful pro­pa­ganda poster fires you up, whether you agree with its mes­sage or not. Leg­endary graphic de­signer Mil­ton Glaser, who cre­ated the I NY logo and an iconic Bob Dylan psychedelic poster and co-founded New York mag­a­zine, calls Tay­lor’s posters “in­ef­fec­tive,” “sloppy” and “anti-de­sign.” Ges­tur­ing to­ward the Col­lier’s look-alike with the young woman and tuxe­doed but­ler, he says, “I can’t imag­ine any­body be­ing per­suaded one way or an­other by this.”

Ni­cholas Lowry, pres­i­dent of Swann Auc­tion Gal­leries and the long­time poster spe­cial­ist and ap­praiser for PBS’S An­tiques Road­show, also thinks the posters are in­ef­fec­tive. “They will not sway so­cial dis­course. They’ll go up on cam­pus, maybe in­fu­ri­ate peo­ple and spark a dis­cus­sion. But it won’t be about the posters them­selves; it will be about post­ing them.”

That’s what hap­pened on Jan­uary 31, the night be­fore alt-right provo­ca­teur Milo Yiannopou­los was sched­uled to speak at the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, Berke­ley. It was close to 8 p.m., and “An­drew,” 23, and “Daniel,” 26, were walk­ing around cam­pus with a bin­der full of Tay­lor’s posters, stick­ing them on trees, build­ings and bul­letin boards. (Both spoke on the con­di­tion of anonymity.) They’d been hang­ing posters for 90 min­utes when, they say, a white guy in his 20s walked up to them and asked for a flyer. They were sus­pi­cious but handed him one. Then, ac­cord­ing to Daniel, the guy asked for a copy of each poster, promis­ing to “put [them] up around cam­pus.”

“No,” Daniel replied. “We pre­fer to do that, if you don’t mind.” Daniel says that’s when the guy got “no­tice­ably ag­gres­sive. He started walk­ing to­ward us at a very brisk pace, with a very stern look on his face, and started de­mand­ing that we give him ev­ery­thing.”

When An­drew told the guy to back off, he charged to­ward him, say­ing, “What the fuck are you gonna do about it?” and grabbed the bin­der con­tain­ing the posters. When Daniel snatched it back, the guy punched him in the face.

He and An­drew say a sec­ond man in his 20s then jumped in and also smacked Daniel in the face. The four young men traded punches for nearly a minute—an­drew was slammed onto the ground, hard, his at­tacker fall­ing on his left knee. When Daniel’s glasses flew off his face, one of the guys stomped on them. Daniel re­mem­bers one of his as­sailants shout­ing, “Go back to the in­ter­net. If you ever do some­thing like this again, the same sort of thing will hap­pen.”

By the time the two guys fled, Daniel had four or five small cuts on his face, and An­drew could barely walk be­cause of his busted knee, so Daniel helped him hob­ble over to a cam­pus phone, where they called Berke­ley po­lice. (The in­ci­dent is listed as “at­tempted rob­bery,” and the crime re­port says both sus­pects wore plaid shirts and had beards.)

“This is a vi­o­lent way to cen­sor some­one’s po­lit­i­cal speech that we all have a right to,” An­drew says. “They told us to never do this


again, but in no way do I plan on stop­ping. Once I’m healed up, I’ll be out there again.”


WHEN TRUMP be­came the 45th pres­i­dent of the United States in Jan­uary and started mak­ing good on his campaign prom­ises, like in­tro­duc­ing a con­tro­ver­sial immigration ban, rolling back bath­room pro­tec­tions for trans­gen­der stu­dents and at­tack­ing the “lib­eral me­dia,” white na­tion­al­ists cel­e­brated. “Hail Trump! Hail our peo­ple! Hail vic­tory!” shouted alt-right leader Richard Spencer in front of a room full of sup­port­ers at the an­nual con­fer­ence of the Na­tional Pol­icy In­sti­tute in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., last Novem­ber. They replied with cheers and Nazi salutes.

The day be­fore, for­mer Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke had praised Trump, say­ing, “He’s ap­pointed men who are go­ing to start this process of tak­ing our coun­try back, and I tell you, for the first time in years, our side is em­pow­ered, our side is en­thu­si­as­tic, our side is ex­cited, our side is hope­ful, but more than hope­ful, we are be­com­ing con­fi­dent.”

In mid-march, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Steve King, a Repub­li­can from Iowa, tweeted his sup­port for Geert Wilders, a far-right Dutch politi­cian who wants to ban the Ko­ran in the Nether­lands and end Mus­lim immigration. King said, “Wilders un­der­stands that cul­ture and de­mo­graph­ics are our des­tiny. We can’t res­tore our civ­i­liza­tion with some­body else’s ba­bies.” Although he got ham­mered, he stood by his tweet. “I meant ex­actly what I said,” he told CNN. “I’d like to see an Amer­ica that is just so ho­moge­nous that we look a lot the same.”

Trump has never for­mally em­braced white na­tion­al­ism, which the Anti-defama­tion League calls “a eu­phemism for white supremacy,” yet his “Amer­ica first” pol­icy has em­bold­ened lead­ers like Tay­lor to take their mes­sages to the masses. “Be­fore Trump got elected, there was a sense that whites were los­ing their place in so­ci­ety,” says Mar­i­lyn Mayo, a research

fel­low at the ADL’S Cen­ter on Ex­trem­ism. “I’ve been here 20 years, and I’ve never seen white su­prem­a­cists feel so op­ti­mistic and em­bold­ened as they do right now, in terms of be­ing able to reach the main­stream.”

Since last fall, white su­prem­a­cists have pa­pered more than 90 col­lege cam­puses in 32 states with fly­ers, ac­cord­ing to the ADL. Be­tween Septem­ber 2016 and April 6, the or­ga­ni­za­tion had tracked 126 in­ci­dents of white su­prem­a­cist flyer cam­paigns, 86 of which oc­curred since Jan­uary. “This is un­prece­dented,” Mayo says. Up un­til now, the in­ter­net has been the alt-right’s playpen—that’s how Pepe the Frog mor­phed from a beloved car­toon meme into an un­of­fi­cial sym­bol of white supremacy.

Two groups are be­hind most of the poster cam­paigns: Iden­tity Evropa, which launched “Project Siege” to at­tract re­cruits on col­lege cam­puses and fa­vors posters of Greek and Ro­man stat­ues, and Amer­i­can Van­guard, which pro­duces mono­chrome, text-heavy fly­ers for its “North­ern Pro­pa­ganda Campaign.” Last March, a self-pro­fessed “white na­tion­al­ist hack­tivist” named An­drew Auern­heimer, also known as “Weev,” used a line of code to send anti-semitic, racist fly­ers to 20,000 pub­licly ac­ces­si­ble print­ers around the U.S. The one-page fly­ers, which sud­denly ap­peared in printer paper trays at Prince­ton, Brown Univer­sity and Smith Col­lege, among other schools, men­tioned “the strug­gle for global white supremacy” and bore two swastikas.

“Images of Klans­peo­ple burn­ing crosses and com­mit­ting lynch­ings—those were the ad­ver­tise­ments of white supremacy his­tor­i­cally in the U.S.,” says Stuart Ewen, a dis­tin­guished pro­fes­sor at the City Univer­sity of New York Grad­u­ate Cen­ter and at Hunter Col­lege, CUNY, and an ex­pert on me­dia, con­sumer cul­ture and pro­pa­ganda. “White supremacy doesn’t have a par­tic­u­larly rich aes­thetic his­tory that can be drawn upon to­day.”

Per­haps that’s why Tay­lor’s posters co-opt Rosie, Thomas Jef­fer­son and 1940s Amer­i­cana, all of which have been re­cy­cled with fu­ri­ous fre­quency for left-lean­ing causes. “It’s kind of bril­liant to re-ap­pro­pri­ate your enemy,” says Lenz. “These posters are part of a larger global move­ment to push tra­di­tion­al­ism and white na­tion­al­ism fur­ther into the main­stream.”


TAY­LOR MAY be try­ing to at­tract new sup­port­ers with his fly­ers, but his­tor­i­cally, po­lit­i­cal posters did some­thing much more nu­anced: Through art and de­sign, they val­i­dated and strength­ened peo­ple’s feel­ings, unit­ing them around com­mon causes. In 1754, Ben­jamin Franklin de­signed and pub­lished the first po­lit­i­cal car­toon in Amer­i­can his­tory, de­pict­ing the early Amer­i­can Colonies as a snake chopped up into eight pieces. New Eng­land was the head, South Carolina the tail, and along the bottom read the phrase “Join, or Die.” The image, pub­lished in Franklin’s Pennsylvania Gazette, un­der­scored the im­por­tance of the Colonies unit­ing against the French and their In­dian al­lies.

Dur­ing World War I, the Com­mit­tee on Pub­lic In­for­ma­tion hired artists and il­lus­tra­tors to cre­ate pro­pa­ganda posters to mo­bi­lize sup­port for the war. It was a pre-tv, pre-ra­dio and pre-in­ter­net world, which meant de­sign­ers had

to cre­ate images so pow­er­ful they would con­vince Amer­i­cans to en­list and turn the na­tional conscience against the enemy. “Good pro­pa­ganda is heart-stop­pingly fan­tas­tic, even if you dis­agree with the mes­sage,” says Lowry.

H.R. Hopps’s “De­stroy This Mad Brute” por­trayed Ger­mans as an­i­mals, with a bar­baric go­rilla storm­ing Amer­i­can shores as he clutched a half-naked woman in one hand and a bloody club in the other. Fred Spear’s haunt­ing poster “En­list” de­picted a mother ca­ress­ing her baby as both of them sank, dead, into the depths of the ocean. The poster fol­lowed the sink­ing of the Lusi­ta­nia in 1915, which killed 1,198 peo­ple, in­clud­ing 128 Amer­i­cans, and was so suc­cess­ful that “peo­ple ri­oted in the streets and men lined up to en­list on that image alone,” says Lowry.

Dur­ing the Viet­nam War, print­maker Lorraine Sch­nei­der scrawled the phrase “War is un­healthy for chil­dren and other liv­ing things” around a sim­ple draw­ing of a sun­flower, cre­at­ing a time­less anti-war icon.

Over the next decades, pro­pa­ganda posters con­tin­ued to com­bine emo­tional pleas with so­ciopo­lit­i­cal agen­das, from AIDS epi­demic posters that tack­led fear and mis­in­for­ma­tion about the dis­ease to the anti–iraq War poster that re­placed the danc­ing sil­hou­ettes in Ap­ple’s ipod ads with a tor­ture image from Abu Ghraib. Shep­ard Fairey’s iconic “Hope” por­trait of then­pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Barack Obama, which New Yorker art critic Peter Sch­jel­dahl called “the most ef­fi­ca­cious Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal il­lus­tra­tion since ‘Un­cle Sam Wants You,’” has be­come an en­dur­ing image of pos­si­bil­ity. It also spawned a crop of par­o­dies fea­tur­ing var­i­ous politi­cians paired with the words Nope, Dope and Grope.

In the wake of Trump’s elec­tion, the left— like the alt-right—has lever­aged the power of poster-mak­ing and the dis­sem­i­na­tion of poster art on so­cial me­dia. At those women’s marches in Jan­uary, pro­pa­ganda posters all over the world got per­sonal. More than 1 mil­lion peo­ple protested Trump’s pres­i­dency and what they saw as his racist, sex­ist and an­ti­im­mi­grant poli­cies. Rather than car­ry­ing mass-pro­duced posters de­signed by fa­mous artists, as pro­test­ers had done decades be­fore, most peo­ple hoisted up Diyers that looked more like fifth-grade art projects than branded con­tent. “I can’t be­lieve I still have to protest this fuck­ing shit,” read a sign held by an older woman. “If you build a wall, my gen­er­a­tion will knock it down!” said a poster board held by a young boy. “This is what a fem­i­nist looks like,” read the posters hang­ing from the necks of two older men. A tod­dler sat on her fa­ther’s shoul­ders, hold­ing a sign that said, “I count.”

Pho­to­graphs of those signs and posters, put to­gether on


kitchen ta­bles and liv­ing room floors in Wash­ing­ton, London, Paris and other cities around the world, flooded Face­book, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter for days. This out­pour­ing of po­lit­i­cal soul-bar­ing not only boosted arts and crafts sales the week lead­ing up to the marches (poster board sales in­creased 33 per­cent over last year in the U.S., and foam board signs were up 42 per­cent), but it also launched count­less lis­ti­cles of the best, fun­ni­est, nas­ti­est and most badass signs. “This clever but pointed vis­ual short­hand is easy to share and spreads fast,” says David Ha­jdu, an arts and cul­ture critic and pro­fes­sor at the Columbia Jour­nal­ism School. “It’s the lin­gua franca of 2017.”

The alt-right, how­ever, speaks an­other lan­guage. Tay­lor’s posters are master­ful in their ap­pro­pri­a­tion, pig­gy­back­ing on pow­er­ful impressions made by proven iconog­ra­phy, and yet they show that, so far, white na­tion­al­ists un­der­stand cre­ativ­ity and in­no­va­tion as well as tod­dlers grasp aero­nau­ti­cal sci­ence. “Tay­lor’s posters don’t even make white­ness funny or some­thing any­one would want to be!” Ewen says. It took a left-lean­ing his­to­rian from New York City, who worked for the Stu­dent Non­vi­o­lent Co­or­di­nat­ing Com­mit­tee, a 1960s civil rights group, to jok­ingly sug­gest what an ef­fec­tive pro-white slo­gan might say: “Kiss my white ass.”

As Ewen says, “That would be funny.”


CRAIG BRUM­FIELD was freez­ing his tail off, sit­ting at a ta­ble near the en­trance of the Mis­sis­sippi Coast Coli­seum and Con­ven­tion Cen­ter, wear­ing khaki pants and a thick hunt­ing jacket. It was Jan­uary 2016, pri­mary sea­son, and Trump was in Biloxi for what was billed as the largest po­lit­i­cal event in Mis­sis­sippi his­tory. Brum­field, an artist from nearby Ocean Springs who makes pot­tery and paints or­nate na­ture and marine scenes, had de­cided on a whim to cre­ate a pro-trump poster. That’s why he was sit­ting there in the blow­ing cold, with a box of 150 posters for sale—not the life­less signs scat­tered around lawns and crowds, with Trump’s name etched in rigid white-and­blue let­ter­ing, but enor­mous, vi­brant works of art that look more like lowrider mu­rals or rock con­cert posters.

In one, a car­toon Trump screams from the cen­ter of the poster, as if he’s in mid-rant, his mouth wide open and one fist clenched. In his other hand, he holds a fish­ing rod that has hooked the coli­seum as if it’s a large­mouth bass. A gi­gan­tic blue crab sits on his head, topped with a red trucker hat and two eagles. Up top, boxy, bright red let­ters read, “Don­ald Trump,” and at the bottom, there’s a bright-green 3-D draw­ing of the state of Mis­sis­sippi. Scat­tered through­out are Amer­i­can flags and birds.

Brum­field sold 90 posters at the Biloxi rally. He de­signed six more for Trump ral­lies last winter, and now po­lit­i­cal poster ex­pert Hal Wert and other poster freaks are track­ing them down for their col­lec­tions. For Trump’s rally in Madi­son, Mis­sis­sippi, Brum­field drew Hil­lary Clin­ton in black-and-white prison garb, her face wrin­kled and skele­tal as Trump dangles her up­side down by her toes and brands her be­hind with an iron shaped like the state of Mis­sis­sippi. In the New Or­leans poster, Trump plays a shiny golden trum­pet on a fast-mov­ing speed­boat while clutch­ing a fish­ing net full of voodoo dolls that re­sem­ble Clin­ton, Obama and other po­lit­i­cal fig­ures, all about to be eaten by an al­li­ga­tor.

“I’ve not seen any­thing on the right like that ever be­fore,” says Wert, a pro­fes­sor of his­tory at the Kansas City Art In­sti-


tute and au­thor of Hope: A Col­lec­tion of Obama Posters and Prints. “Thomas Nast is alive and well!” Brum­field’s posters played up ev­ery­thing the left dis­likes about Trump: his brash­ness, his re­al­ity-tv show­man­ship, his ut­ter dis­dain for Clin­ton and all other foes. And that’s what makes them ex­tremely ef­fec­tive as pro-trump pro­pa­ganda. Ac­cord­ing to Brum­field, Trump fans—as well as even Trump campaign staffers and Trump him­self—ate them up. (The pres­i­dent signed one of his Biloxi posters.) “I could have sold a heck of a lot more if I’d put them on my Face­book and web­site, but ev­ery­one has their own pol­i­tics. I don’t want peo­ple to get the wrong mes­sage and be hat­ing on my art­work.” (Brum­field adds that he voted for Trump.)

His posters are as raw and brazen as Trump and do ex­actly what pro­pa­ganda should do: hit you in the gut. Yet some ex­perts are skep­ti­cal about their im­pact. Heller likens Brum­field’s posters to “nasty comic book art by an un­tu­tored yet heart­felt high-schooler.” Res­nick says that if they are the fu­ture of po­lit­i­cal art, “we are all doomed to com­plete medi­ocrity!”

But Brum­field isn’t con­cerned about cre­at­ing cap­i­tal A art. He set out to cap­ture Trump, the man, in a lan­guage his fans could un­der­stand—an­other kind of lin­gua franca. “Seems to me the left didn’t have much to of­fer in the art spec­trum con­cern­ing pol­i­tics this year,” he says. “This was a per­fect time in Amer­i­can his­tory to vis­ually cap­ture the mo­men­tum and power of the campaign with orig­i­nal­ity, not rip­ping old images off and putting new mes­sages in them to fit the or­der,” he says, re­fer­ring to Tay­lor’s pro-white posters. “I looked through those and rolled my eyes. Not that peo­ple should not be proud of their her­itage or cul­ture, but I frown on ex­treme mea­sures to push any­one’s color…. Col­ors only mat­ter to me when I am do­ing art­work.”

Tay­lor and his alt-right bud­dies agree—so long as the color is white. Un­like Brum­field’s posters, which cap­tured the rau­cous re­bel­lion of the vot­ers who put Trump in the White House, Tay­lor’s work fo­cuses on a marginal­ized be­lief in white supremacy. The suc­cess of his pro-white posters is not that they are art­ful, nor is it their abil­ity to re­cruit new blood (at least not yet). It’s that they ex­ist at all. “I do hope the alt-right doesn’t fig­ure it out,” Lowry says. “An image is worth a thou­sand words, and if they do fig­ure out how to do PR, it won’t bode well for the rest of us.”

ASS KICK­ING: Brum­field made a se­ries of posters that tapped into the pas­sion and fury of Trump’s campaign ral­lies, mock­ing foes and their foibles.

ROLL AN­OTHER ONE: The mar­ket for po­lit­i­cal posters ex­ploded in the ’60s, tak­ing on ev­ery­thing from the Viet­nam War to women’s rights to the use of recre­ational drugs.

GO­RILLA TAC­TICS: Wars are of­ten some of the most fruit­ful top­ics for poster art, pro and con; the U.S. govern­ment hired artists to stir up sup­port on the home front dur­ing World War I and en­flame anti-ger­man sen­ti­ments.

SIEG HEIL, Y’ALL: White su­prem­a­cists have long moved in the shad­ows, but many of them heard Trump’s call to make Amer­ica great again as a code for “make Amer­ica white again,” and are step­ping into the main­stream.

ON ENEMY GROUND: Tay­lor’s mis­sion to in­un­date col­lege cam­puses with pro-white pro­pa­ganda in­cludes a 13-step video tu­to­rial on how to hang posters with­out get­ting caught or beaten up (wear a hoodie; post af­ter mid­night).

WHITE­WASH AND FOLD: Tay­lor’s scheme is to co-opt iconic lib­eral posters to con­vince bright, young minds that white Amer­ica is un­der at­tack.

SOVIET RE­UNION: Col­lec­tors of poster art say that even the best alt-right stuff is de­riv­a­tive, repli­cat­ing iconic im­agery. They say the move­ment is still wait­ing for the in­fu­sion of artis­tic ge­nius that fu­els the most com­pelling graph­ics. .

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.